[Please note that TOP is offline Saturdays. We'll return Sunday afternoon. —Ed.]
She's just sent me a copy of It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War, her memoir published by Penguin Press.
Photojournalist—and now author—Lynsey Addario
Strangely perhaps—write it off to chaos theory—I didn't write about it when she was kidnapped in 2011. Maybe that's good, though, because it means you can read her own account of it, as you should.
It violates the Pinker Rule to recommend a book before I've read it all the way through, but this one is turning out to be a particularly compelling example of its genre. I tried to contact Lynsey for permission to publish a short excerpt; she's doubtless off doing much more serious things than answering emails. In the breach, try this, maybe tomorrow when TOP takes the day off:
- Go to the Amazon page.
- Click on the book cover to "Look Inside."
- Scroll down and click on "Prelude."
- Scroll down and start reading past the three-dot break where it begins "I was there on assignment for the New York Times with three other award-winning journalists...."
Blurb-words are impossible to use, because of runaway blurb-word inflation and excessive blurb-word overexposure, but see if you don't think what follows gets more and more "gripping."
It's illegal to steal large sections of published text without permission (people who repost whole articles on forums take note), but Fair Use allows you to publish reasonable small selections for the purpose of discussion. I think I'll venture this, from page 123 of the hardcover:
"Is anyone here a journalist?" the driver repeated. " I have the body of a journalist in the trunk of my car and don't know what to do with it."
I definitely couldn't handle that. I walked back over to Eric and Elizabeth. Eric rattled off a phone number, and Elizabeth dialed and handed the phone back to him. It was a number for the wife of his dead colleague, and the answering machine picked up. He hung up. Eric uttered another number, and someone picked up. It was his office in Australia.
"Hi. This is Eric. Paul is dead."
Just like that.
I ran around to the back of the hospital and put my face in my hands. That phone call could have been for me, for Ivan, for Elizabeth. I didn't even have any phone numbers for Elizabeth's family. We were all there minutes before the car bomb detonated. Now there was some random taxi driver with the body of a colleague folded and dismembered in his trunk, asking what to do with it. How did one transfer the body of a friend out of a country we all snuck into illegally, when there were no functioning embassies, no police, no diplomats, and the only open border accessible from northern Iraq was with Iran? It seemed so obvious, but I didn't know war meant death—that journalists might also get killed in the war. I hid behind the hospital, ashamed of my weakness, my tears, and my fear, wondering if I had the strength for this job, and wept inconsolably.
The war had begun.
Frightening and sobering, as life. As writing, cracking good stuff. I suspect you'll find that the book's value as information about photojournalism begins to take a back seat, and what you're reading is actually top-drawer, page-turning true life adventure writing.
I do 95% of my reading on the iPad Air and Kindle now, and I have It's What I Do for the Kindle app and also in hardcover. In this case I'm going to recommend the hardcover. It's a compact, solid, well-made book printed on good paper, and the numerous color illustrations integrated into the flow of the printed matter are particularly well done.
I guess I have to finish this before I can say "highly recommended." So stay tuned for that.
Original contents copyright 2015 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Bryce Lee: "Wanted the hardcover copy of the book through Amazon Canada. One to three month wait before being allowed into Canada. And the price could also (after checking with my local retail outlet who are not bringing in the book) be twice or more the listed U.S. price. And I don't do tablets or readers."
Mike replies: Easy. Just go here. Free shipping worldwide, and in stock.